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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs (Album Review)

Thursday, 21 June 2018 Written by Liam Turner

Photo: Warwick Baker

Most debut albums emerge without the weight of expectation on their shoulders. That sort of pressure is usually reserved for the second outing, after the first wins over a new fanbase with a few bangers and a bit of novelty. But after releasing two stellar EPs in recent years, all eyes are on Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever and their first full length, ‘Hope Downs’. Did the burden get to them? Happily, no.

First and foremost that’s because of the guitars. There are no fewer than three of them here - two electric, one acoustic - and it’s wonderfully refreshing to hear them played with such ingenuity and verve. They bounce off one another, swooping, gliding and tangling on each and every track.

Sister’s Jeans, for example, sees a slide guitar soar above a spiky lead, strummed acoustic textures and metronomic bass.

Drummer Marcel Tussie forms the rhythmic backbone here, and throughout the record, with his rock-solid, near constant 4/4 beat evoking the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts or ex-AC/DC sticksman Phil Rudd.

The group’s instrumental mastery comes to a head on lead single Talking Straight, a song Joe White - one of the band’s three main songwriters - wrote after overhearing a conversation about the possibility of being alone in the universe.

“I wanna know where the silence comes from, where space originates,” he sings in his best Mick Jagger drawl, amid a rapid-fire rhythm and some playful, mellifluous guitars. It’s a prime example of how the sum can become more than its parts.

Unfortunately, though, the rest of the album never reaches the same heights as that song, or the title track from the ‘French Press’ EP for that matter, with many of the tracks on the second half settling into a genial sort of complacency. Cappuccino City, ironically enough, evokes a sound not unlike something you’d hear in a suburban coffee shop.

That’s not to say anything here is destined for the scrap heap - each song isl well-formed, ear-wormy and pleasant - but the euphoria of the record’s lead single is a one time thing. A few more like it and ‘Hope Downs’ would have comfortably been one of the best indie-rock debuts of recent times. Instead, it’s just a very good one.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Fri October 19 2018 - MANCHESTER Manchester Academy 2
Sun October 21 2018 - LEEDS Leeds University Stylus
Tue October 23 2018 - BRIGHTON Concorde 2
Wed October 24 2018 - PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
Thu October 25 2018 - OXFORD O2 Academy Oxford
Mon October 29 2018 - LONDON KOKO

Click here to compare & buy Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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